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With effect from 2013-14 (i.e. reporting on academic year 2012-13), the threshold at which UK universities and colleges are eligible for dispensation from the need to comply with the full Transparent Approach to Costing (TRAC) requirements was increased to £3 million per annum of publicly-funded research income, calculated as a five-year rolling average. This reduced the administrative burden of TRAC for research organisations that have low levels of publicly-funded research.

All Research Organisations are required to submit annual TRAC and TRAC(T) returns for accountability purposes, but those eligible for claiming dispensation are not required to comply with the following requirements:

  • Obtain time allocation data from academics (heads of department could, for example, provide this information)
  • Use more than four to six cost drivers to allocate indirect costs
  • Identify space use across the whole institutions
  • Calculate laboratory technicians and research facility charge-out rates, and apply these separately from estates rates
  • Calculate indirect costs rates and estates rates
  • Robustly calculate staff FTEs

Eligible Research Organisations wishing to comply with full TRAC requirements may still do so.

Since 2011 the dispensation rates have been set at the sector lower quartiles, which for 2017/18 are:

  • Indirect cost rate: £37,283
  • Laboratory estates rate: £10,512
  • Non-laboratory estates rate: £6,062

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